When your bank is going through a merger or acquisition, the resulting changes are numerous. While you have a lot going on behind closed doors, you can’t forget about your web presence and the effect the merger or acquisition will have on both banks’ customers. You’ve worked hard to optimize your website, but what will happen to it when you change names or combine websites with another bank? The transition is risky and has the potential to negatively affect your SEO. If done correctly, however, the impact can be both positive and long-lasting. A merger or acquisition presents the opportunity to gain new web content, inherit inbound links, and increase keyword visibility. Here are our tips for updating your web presence and notifying your customers of a merger or acquisition.
You’ve invested your company’s assets in building, maintaining, and optimizing your website over the years. Don’t lose customers now due to broken web links and outdated information. It’s important that you take the time to set up page-level redirects for your new website. This means redirecting Company B’s mortgage webpage to Company A’s mortgage webpage and not lazily sending everyone to Company A’s homepage. It may be tedious, but page-level redirects will help minimize SEO loss. The following steps should be completed for proper website redirection:
- Create comprehensive sitemaps of both banks’ websites in order to design a logical plan to combine and consolidate the existing information into a single site.
- Check for Google penalties on the old site and use online tools to verify that the old site’s content is unique before adding it to your existing website. A Google penalty is a punishment imposed on your website for not meet their guidelines. It usually results in a lower ranking in search results.
- Identify high-performing search terms for the old site and carry that valuable content over to your new website.
- Match URLs from similar pages. For example, you would redirect www.abc.com/loans to www.xyz.com/loans. Each page on the old site needs a 301 redirect to a page on the new site that closely matches it. This will take advantage of the SEO earned by the old website and help search engines find the new pages faster.
- If one site has several pages that the other site does not have, like products and blog articles, find a way to redirect this content to the new site. Blog content may need to be repurposed on the new site.
- Click through all your webpages to check that they are navigating properly and that the redirects are working.
- Submit the updated sitemap to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Ensure that your site has a custom error 404 page that contains your full website navigation. This way, if your website visitors get lost when looking for a page, they can still navigate through your site instead of hitting a dead end.
After following these steps your website should contain the best of both companies. Over the next few weeks, monitor specific page performance, organic search results, and keyword positioning in search results in order to gauge the effectiveness of your integration. You can use a tool like Google Analytics to monitor traffic and usability.
Update Local Listings
Most likely your merger or acquisition has resulted in rebranding with an updated company name and logo. The first step in updating your web presence is adding new content and brand imagery to your website. Once you’ve rebranded yourself and you’re ready to face the public, it’s time to reach out to local listing sites such as Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and US Bank Locations. Verify that these accounts accurately portray your new brand. If you have acquired a bank, transfer control of their local listing accounts to you and verify that they are updated with the new brand imagery.
Your social accounts are next. Rebrand them with the updated company name and imagery, address your audience with a formal announcement of the merger or acquisition, and combine existing social accounts. Focus on the major social platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram – for these changes. Be sure to take time to introduce and describe the new brand to your customers. Update your social accounts to link to the post-merger website and update your website to link to the rebranded social accounts. Create a closed loop that leaves no ambiguity about which company your customers are banking with.
You should be warned that no matter how many times you communicate with customers of both banks about the merger/acquisition, you’ll still receive angry complaints from people who “had no idea” the change was coming. That being said, you can greatly reduce the confusion and customer service calls with a well-planned communications strategy that starts immediately after the announcement. This is an excellent opportunity to tout the benefits of the merger or acquisition to customers of both banks; added locations, new technologies, improved efficiencies, more competitive products, etc. It is (of course) imperative that all front-line employees can speak confidently with customers about the coming changes.
Once you’ve crafted this language about all the added benefits and firmed up a timeline for anything that will impact customers, create a landing page on both websites. With the landing pages published, help website visitors find them by promoting them on the homepage, and with popups/notifications on other pages. Next, utilize your eStatement portal, social media accounts, and email lists to funnel customers to the landing page. Add the landing page URL to the outside envelopes used to deliver customer statements each month, internal branch signage, teller receipts, and anything else customers come into contact with. But don’t stop there! Allocate advertising dollars to target people searching for your bank name in Google and Bing with search ads, and also deliver Facebook ads to existing customers using the Custom Audience feature.
Wrap Up Loose Ends
The Internet is filled with backlinks, which lead to and from other websites. In fact, the more backlinks you have, the greater your SEO. After the merger or acquisition, you may have old links sitting stagnant on the web. If possible, figure out which websites are linking back to your website. Prioritize this list by importance to your business and contact these sites to request they change their link to the new URL. Not all websites will bother to respond to your request, but this effort is important for retaining the SEO value of these existing links.
BankBound is here to help!
The risk of losing your web clout looms on the horizon during a merger or acquisition. Careful planning and execution of a digital marketing plan will help you not only survive the transition but glean valuable content and SEO from the other bank. If you can capture the content and connections that drive traffic, the old website can provide a long-lasting boost to your existing SEO. In order to take advantage of this transition, you’ll need to rework your website, social accounts, and existing network of backlinks.
Need help with your digital marketing strategy during a merger or acquisition? BankBound is dedicated to creating digital marketing solutions for financial institutions just like yours. If you’re approaching a merger or acquisition, we’ll help you gain new customers, engage existing customers, and increase the visibility of your brand online. This transition is an opportunity to combine the SEO power of two brands into one, so don’t miss it!